Muslim men in Germany take advantage of the social welfare system by bringing two, three, four women from across the Muslim world and then marrying them in front of an imam. Although polygamous marriages are not officially recognized -- and are technically illegal and punishable by fines and imprisonment -- government agencies are reluctant to take action. Once in Germany, the women request social welfare benefits, including the cost of a separate home for themselves and their children, on the claim of being a "single parent with children." Cracking down on state-funded polygamy may be bad politics.

More than half of all Germans view Islam as a threat to their country and believe it does not belong in the Western world, according to a major new study on religious attitudes in Germany.

The findings confirm the results of dozens of other surveys, and reflect a growing divide between the views of ordinary Germans and those of Europe's multicultural elites, who, in the quest for "diversity," have been promoting mass immigration from Muslim countries for decades.

The study, entitled, Religion Monitor 2013: Religiousness and Cohesion in Germany (currently available only in German) was produced by the Bertelsmann Foundation, one of the most influential think tanks and lobbying groups in Europe, and a strong proponent of "progressive" causes such as multiculturalism and global governance.

According to the survey -- designed to measure the "most important forms and intensity of the religiosity" of German citizens -- the majority of Germans view Islam as "foreign, different and threatening."

More specifically, 51% of Germans believe Islam poses a threat to their way of life. In East Germany that figure rises to 57%, while in West Germany it reaches 49%. (The survey also shows that one in five Germans believe Judaism poses a threat to the German way of life.)

Only 25% of Germans believe that Islam has a positive influence on German society.

Although 85% Germans say that society should be open to all religions, and 67% believe that "every religion has a core of truth," fully 50% of Germans believe that Islam does not belong to Germany.

The survey also shows that Muslims possess the strongest religious identity in Germany. Some 90% of Muslims believe that religion is somewhat or very important, 40% rate themselves as very religious, and 30% of Muslims visit the mosque on a regular basis. By contrast, only 18% of Protestant Christians attend church on a regular basis.

According to the survey, nearly 40% of Muslims in Germany believe Islam "has a monopoly on the truth" and that other religions are patently false. The poll shows that nearly 20% of Muslims in Germany believe that "only politicians who believe in God are suitable for public office." More than 30% of Muslims believe that Muslim religious leaders should have more influence on government decision-making.

Although 80% of Muslims in Germany say they believe "democracy is a good form of government," the survey also shows that only 24% of Muslims are involved in civil society activities outside of work and family. Bertelsmann explains the statistical disconnect in this way: "The strong collective attachment to family, which prioritizes family relationships over civil society activities, probably plays a role."

The survey results are undeniably bad news for multiculturalists, who are now busy casting the blame for "Islamophobia" on German ignorance and portraying Muslim immigrants as victims of "negative stereotypes."

Bertelsmann claims that the Germans who are most concerned about Islam are "the elderly and those with low levels of education," although the report offers no convincing empirical evidence to support this claim.

In an interview with the international broadcaster Deutsche Welle, Detlaff Pollack, a sociologist who co-authored the Bertelsmann study, tries to downplay the negative perception of Muslims in Germany by claiming that it could be due to the lack of personal contact between Germans and Muslims. In other words, if Germans would only make the effort to meet Muslims they would like what they encounter.

Pollack's explanation seems inadequate, however, given that the Bertelsmann study shows that Germans have overwhelmingly positive views of Buddhism and Hinduism, although most Germans have presumably never met a Buddhist or a Hindu, who make up only 0.3% and 0.1% of the German population, respectively.

In a separate interview with Deutsche Welle, Stephan Vopel, the other co-author of the Bertelsmann study, says: "Certainly education is a very important key for it [tolerance of Islam]. Secondly, we have found that there is a high correlation between the question, have you ever had contact with people of other religions, and attitudes towards other religions. This means that people of different religions must enter into dialogue with each other, need to interact with each other."

But Vopel undermines his own argument by admitting that there already is a considerable amount of interaction between Germans and Muslims. He says: "Here in Germany -- even in comparison with other European countries -- it is not so bad. Here we do not have as strong a ghettoization, segregation in the neighborhoods, as in some other countries."

Rather than asking Muslims to take responsibility for their "image problem" by making a greater effort to integrate into German society, Vopel says that what is needed is more "Islamic religion classes in public schools" so that Germans can become better educated about Islam.

In trying to explain the "frightening" survey results, the pollsters at Bertelsmann apparently cannot get themselves to admit that the poll numbers might reflect reality: Maybe Germans have interacted with Muslims and simply do not like what they see.

Consider the problem of state-funded polygamy in Germany, as reported in a television news broadcast on RTL Extra on April 29, just one day after the Bertelsmann study was released. (The RTL Group is the one of the largest media conglomerates in Europe and is owned by the very same Bertelsmann that is wondering why Germans are "Islamophobic.")

The RTL Extra report (a 23-minute video of the RTL report can be viewed at YouTube here) explains how Muslim polygamists are being financially supported by German taxpayers.

Although polygamy is banned in Germany by Paragraph 1306 of the Civil Code and Paragraph 172 of the Penal Code, in practice these laws do not apply to Muslims.

The RTL report shows how Muslim men residing in Germany are taking advantage of the social welfare system by bringing two, three or four women from across the Muslim world to Germany, and then marrying them in the presence of an imam [Muslim religious leader].

Although these polygamous marriages are not officially recognized by the German state -- they are technically illegal and punishable by fines and imprisonment -- the practice is commonplace among Muslims in all major German cities. In Berlin, for example, it is estimated that fully one-third of the Muslim men living in the Neukölln district of the city have two or more wives.

Once in Germany the women request social welfare benefits, including the cost of a separate home for themselves and for their children, on the claim of being a "single parent with children."

The RTL report says that even though the welfare fraud committed by Muslim immigrants is an "open secret" costing German taxpayers millions of euros each year, government agencies are reluctant to take action.

Cracking down on state-funded polygamy may be bad politics. Muslims have emerged as a major voting bloc in German politics, and the mainstream parties are bending over backwards to cater to them ahead of federal elections set for September 22.

Germany's opposition Social Democrats (SPD) are aggressively courting Muslim voters in a desperate bid to unseat German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Peer Steinbrück, for example, the 66-year-old chancellor candidate for the center-left SPD, said at a campaign stop in Berlin on April 3 that he supported the idea that, as a courtesy to Muslims, physical education classes in German schools should be divided by gender.

Steinbrück was borrowing a page from the playbook of neighboring France, where Muslims determined the outcome of the presidential elections in May 2012, and thrust François Hollande and his Socialist Party into office.

Initially, the ruling center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) expressed outrage at Steinbrück's regressive proposal: a party spokesperson said that "children and parents have to get used to the fact that genders here grow up together and live with the same rights."

Since then, however, the CDU has been changing its tune. As reported by the German newspaper Die Zeit on April 30, the CDU is now actively pursuing Muslim voters, who may end up determining who will become the next chancellor of Germany.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in Nürnberg on April 10, Merkel called on Germans to show respect for Muslim immigrants. She said: "It is not enough to be a country with a high rate of migration, but we must also become a country of integration."

Merkel added: "For many immigrants, the stay in Germany is not a temporary phenomenon, as we sometimes believed, but a permanent reality."

Her words are in stark contrast to October 2010, when Merkel said that multiculturalism has "failed utterly," and November 2010, when the CDU passed a resolution stressing that Germany's cultural identity (Leitkultur) is based on the "Christian-Jewish tradition, ancient and Enlightenment philosophy and the nation's historical experience."

The CDU estimates that Germany is now home to 16 million people with immigrant backgrounds, out of which up to 5.6 million are eligible to vote in September.

The CDU is now actively fielding Muslim candidates. The party has especially high hopes for Cemile Giousouf, a 34-year-old enthnic Turkish woman who will compete as a parliamentary candidate in the constituency of Hagen, a city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia that is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in Germany. If Giousouf wins, she would be the first ethnic Turkish MP of the CDU in the region.

The Chairman of the German-Turkish Forum in the CDU, Bülent Arslan, sums it up this way: "To win the sympathies of the people [Muslim immigrants], the CDU needs more ethnic Turkish MPs."

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

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